30 Day Painting Challenge: Day 1

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30 Day Painting Challenge: Day 1

Any­one who lives in my part of New Eng­land knows how gray and dis­mal the autumn and win­ter have been so far. We haven’t had the usu­al snow or freez­ing rain or sleet or any of the nasty “win­try mix” types of pre­cip­i­ta­tion we usu­al­ly get, so I don’t want to com­plain too much. (I wouldn’t mind a lit­tle snow, though.) Instead, it has rained. And rained. Or been gray. And gray again.

One thing you might not have known about me is that I can’t take a lot of gray. I need sun­light and warmth. Prefer­ably lots of both. In fact, I resist­ed using grays as an artist for a long time because I despised the col­or so much.

Photo of "Fresh Mowing" pastel painting by Carolyn Caldwell.

Fresh Mow­ing,” 8 x 10 inch­es, pas­tel, by Car­olyn Cald­well. I am lucky enough to own this paint­ing and rel­ish look­ing at it every day in my kitchen.

And yet, with­out the grays, the glo­ri­ous pure col­ors can’t tru­ly be appre­ci­at­ed. So I learned to love them dur­ing a work­shop I took with Car­olyn Cald­well, who knows her stuff when it comes to col­or the­o­ry. I will for­ev­er be grate­ful to her. One of the most impor­tant things I learned was how many vari­a­tions of gray there are: warm gray, cool gray, pink gray, brown gray, blue gray, green gray, vio­let gray.… You name the col­or, and there’s a gray ver­sion of it. And oh, how they make a paint­ing lure the view­er in.

photo of "Still Life on Outdoor Table," 12 x 12 inches, oil on canvas by Dawn Boyer

Still Life on Out­door Table,” 12 x 12 inch­es, oil on can­vas by Dawn Boy­er

So, I present to you “Still Life on Out­door Table.” It sent me into a new direc­tion, which I hadn’t antic­i­pat­ed. Today’s paint­ing was a way to get some light and warmth back into my life, as well as a way to use dif­fer­ent grays as a sup­port­ing cast to allow the pure yel­lows and oranges and blues do their diva dance with­out mak­ing view­ers’ eyes hurt. Those flow­ers aren’t white, dear read­er. Every light area is either pink gray, vio­let gray, yel­low gray, green gray, or blue gray. They give your eyes a soft and sub­dued land­ing place from which you can view the warm glow of the light. With­out those grays, the paint­ing would have no life, or worse, be a cacoph­o­ny of shout­ing, com­pet­ing col­ors: “Look at me!” “No, me!” “Over here!” “No, here!” And before you know it, your eyes and brain are all dis­com­bob­u­lat­ed and exhaust­ed. Learn to love the gray. Gray is our friend. Well, in paint­ings, at least. I’m sure it is with the weath­er, too, but I’m not there yet.

photo of "Sunday Brunch" painting by Dan McCaw

Sun­day Brunch” by Dan McCaw, 48 x 48 inch­es oil on can­vas.

This paint­ing was also inspired by Dan McCaw, one of my favorite artists (anoth­er thing you prob­a­bly didn’t know about me). What he does with col­or and light and grays and browns is tru­ly awe inspir­ing. His paint­ing here is a prime exam­ple. Those light areas con­tain no or very lit­tle pure white, even though your brain might try to tell you at first that all light areas are white. Every­thing light is a shade of gray. See if you can count how many. I decid­ed to emu­late his style as best I could in order to add to my own.

Until tomor­row!

By |2017-03-02T20:20:58+00:00January 1st, 2015|30 Paintings in 30 Days, Paintings, Still Life|0 Comments

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